Alex Tuff is a regular 25-year old; he loves his dog and being outdoors. However, seven years ago he had a life-changing  experience. His brother, Kristopher, was killed in a workplace tragedy and it changed Alex’s future.

Today, Alex spreads workplace safety via his job with the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association and through his volunteer work at Threads of Life.

HOW DID YOU FIRST COME TO KNOW ABOUT THREADS OF LIFE?

My current employer, the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association, was doing a photoshoot for rebranding and I was in school for occupational health and safety. An employee from the NLCSA, a coworker now, came to the school looking for models.

After that, me and a few other volunteer models went to lunch. We were all chatting and one girl asked us if we heard about the young guy that died from a workplace tragedy out in Labrador.

I said yes, I definitely heard about it since that young guy was my brother, Kristopher. She then told me that there was an organization that supported people who went through the same tragedies, it was called Threads of Life.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LOSS AND HOW FINDING THREADS OF LIFE HELPED YOU.

My brother’s loss was really tough. I was young, only 18, and losing someone at 18 means I got to spend very little time with him. I wasn’t legal yet to grab a beer with him and I didn’t get to go to his wedding, and it was difficult to overcome but I do better now.

I always say that Threads of Life gives a voice to the voiceless. It’s therapeutic to talk about what happened and it keeps my brother’s memory alive. It helps so much. I mean everyone fears that when you lose someone, eventually people will forget them; pictures, documents, notes, they get lost. But, by speaking about it, we can keep the conversation going and not feel like we are crazy.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THREADS OF LIFE.

I attended my first family forum in 2014-2015 and I was intimidated. As the Threads of Life newsletters says: it’s the club nobody wants to join. It’s scary opening yourself up and pouring out your feelings. I’m scared about who I am talking to and why I am telling my story to these people.

So, when I stepped into the lobby and I saw the people there wanting to help, I knew it was fine. Everyone was so nice, they gave hugs, and just wanted to talk to you about what happened and how they can support you.

WHEN DID YOU START VOLUNTEERING?

I probably started volunteering with Threads of Life in 2015 and then I did speakers bureau training in 2016 and I love to do the speaking. It’s my favourite part of volunteering.

WHY DO YOU VOLUNTEER FOR THREADS OF LIFE?

I’ve always loved to volunteer and I’ve always been the guy to help. But, after seeing the other volunteers working so hard to support others, I knew that I had to be one of those people.

Like I said, my favourite part is the speakers bureau. I love when I am talking and you can hear a penny drop and you know that everyone is listening and the message got to them.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEMORY ABOUT YOUR WORK AS A VOLUNTEER?

I was doing a speech for Newfoundland & Labrador Hydro and it was North American Occupational Safety & Health Week.

People start to pile in and as I give my speech, I see one middle-aged guy in the back bawling. I make a mental note to check on him after I finish, just to make sure that he’s fine.

I finish my speech and the guy approaches me and tells me that his father died a few years ago from an industrial accident. I knew this guy needed someone to talk to about his tragedy and so I referred him to a Threads of Life employee, so he could get the support he needed.

WHAT OTHER COMMUNITY/VOLUNTEERING DO YOU DO?

Threads of Life is my charity of choice and most of the volunteering I do is with this organization, but I volunteer in my community too.

I live in a city called Mount Pearl and every year we have a festival in February called the “Frosty Festival”. It’s a lot of fun with concerts and wine shows, plus bingo which is a major hit. More recently, I have gotten into playing Santa and I love to do that.

 

Zaria Cornwall
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